There are kids. And then there are siblings.
And siblings are known to function under a Sibling Code — older or younger.
The older ones are almost always the responsible, obedient, adaptable, ever-obliging and other adjectives that have got the likes of my son, the husband and me patiently survive years of the first-child experiment and still not meet the expected expectations. And there is the younger one, the ‘baby’ in the house, who manages to worm and charm their way out of every responsibility and still get everything their way.
There are those times when the code is broken after the older one has had enough and chooses to give the younger one a taste of their own medicine. And this is my confession.
All through my childhood, I wished that there was a police station that accepted complaints and a court that would give me justice for ‘my share’ of favourites became his or disappeared from under my nose at the blink of an eye. The culprit, whose speed was only slightly lower than the speed of light to get his hands on everything that was rightfully mine, sat before me with absolutely no remorse, his eyes shining bright with the satisfaction of having siphoned off my share along with his, while I sulked, cried and even got a scolding for my carelessness. It was during those times that I painfully realised that in real life, it is not always the slow and steady who wins the race.
Then one day, a cousin who had returned after a trip from the UK visited us with a bag full of goodies. It being her first trip abroad after having just secured a job at a reputed software firm, she had splurged on chocolates — the likes of which we never knew existed. After (with a heavy heart) picking out the smallest share for our neighbours, the chocolates were divided with religious precision between the both of us and stashed away safely.
It was about then that that my brother suffered a tooth ache and was strictly instructed to keep away from chocolates. After years of deceit, I knew that it was only a matter of time before he would find a way to munch, chew and gobble his share and lay his hawkish eyes on mine. This time around, the wicked me knew that time and even his teeth were on my side. On the evening that he was away, like the big bad wicked wolf, I reached home earlier than usual. I scored every inch of the kitchen, upturning every vessel, opening every container — only in vain. Frustrated, I tried to get my mind to think like he would. His lazy ways would only get him to choose a place that was effortless but safe. And there it was, in a bag alongside the vegetable bags in the refrigerator.
That day I tasted victory and gobbled up the irresistible sweetness of payback. That moment when he realised that his chocolates were gone — his face was hijacked by, what appeared to me, a beautiful mix of fury, misery and helplessness. When Mother wanted to put an end to the drama that ensued, she told me to oblige and share some of mine with him. I swallowed the guilt that threatened to make its practised appearance, and stared defiantly, refusing to oblige. I vividly remember the look of helplessness in Mother’s eye as she shook her head.
On a recent day, Little Princess was heard throwing a fit after she found her older brother using her diary as his rough book. He shrugged and explained that he was only repaying her for stealing and claiming ownership of his pen the week before. The look on his defiant face was familiar, one I understood. Karma surely had a way of catching up!
— Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha